Streamlining Your Decor for the New Year

- Tuesday, January 07, 2014

I have started, have you? Now that the chaos of the "Holidaze" is winding down and 2014 has arrived, I have begun dismantling my holiday decor. In fact, I must admit, I started the day before New Year's Eve.

As much as I love the warmth, sparkle, the festivity decorations add to my home there comes a point when I reach my saturation point and it all needs to go away. I start to get a little claustrophobic with all the tinsel and beads and glittery bric-a-brac, not to mention that bedazzled fire-hazard of a dried-out fir tree taking up precious square footage in my living room. You know that tradition of keeping the tree up until the twelfth night? Forget it, that is not happening in this house. No way.

The first thing to go was the present wrapping station that gets set-up in the guest room upstairs each year. Putting away the rolls of paper and all the bows and tags and bags to be used again next year (I try to be green and recycle as much as possible) gets me primed to tackle the bigger projects around the house. Being able to once again see the bed motivates me to move on downstairs.

Next are the mantles in the living and dining rooms. Those fragrant greens of holly, running cedar, magnolia, spruce, and cypress, having already made the trek down from Virginia many weeks ago in the trunk of the car, are no longer looking so fresh and green. I am always amazed at how attractive a plain, unadorned mantle can be.

Taking down the tree is of course the main event. While I have enjoyed it through-out the season, it is time for it to go. About mid-way through this endeavor I become over-whelmed with the process and fear there is no end in sight. But once the ornaments are packed away and the tree cut-up and carried out to the lane behind the house to be turned into mulch, I rediscover my living room. Empty space can be a beautiful thing!

It is about this time year when I start assessing my interior decor and begin to think about streamlining things. In fact, it becomes one of my New Year's resolutions. I vow to really make an effort to pare down some of the clutter around my house. As I have said before, minimalism is not really my personal design style but there comes a point when less is indeed more.

For instance, my kitchen counters, probably like many of yours, could really use some de-cluttering. I am looking forward to having some counter space again once the holiday "carbohydrate station" as my friend Alan calls it, is depleted and the cookies, sweets, and other not-so-healthy snacks are finally consumed. But more than that, I want to clean-up my mail and phone charging organizer and my kitchen utensil crock in serious need of editing (I mean really, how many spatulas and slotted spoons does one truly need?).

And remember, not every horizontal surface in your house needs something sitting on top of it. Not every table top needs groupings of candlesticks and not every dresser needs picture frames lined up like soldiers. Pick a few really good objects and let them breathe in the space without competition. Not every wall needs to be adorned with art either. After all you spent a week looking at paint swatches and agonized over finding the perfect shade so why not let it be seen and enjoyed?

As I sit here in my home office writing this column I see yet another area that could benefit from some streamlining, the bulletin board behind my laptop. It has various photos and notes and cards that have served their purpose and now need to be filed somewhere or better yet thrown away to make room for the new clippings and miscellany to inspire.

Think of streamlining your decor as a spa treatment for your house, a way to refresh and renew for the new year. That is probably something we all could use right about now.

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